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FMD in South Africa


A word from the CEO

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FMD in pigs

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has recently been diagnosed in the Northwest Province, Free State, and Gauteng. FMD is a highly contagious viral disease which affects cloven-footed mammals, including domestic ruminants and pigs. Symptoms of FMD in pigs include vesicles on the feet, snout, and in the mouth, leading to lameness, excessive salivating/slobbering, and, in some cases, fever. Mortality rates in older and adult pigs are relatively low, while in suckling and young weaner pigs mortality rates can be relatively high.

The current outbreaks are caused by South African Territory (SAT) strains (other strains found in other parts are the world are named A, O, C, and Asian 1). Infected pigs are able to spread the disease well, as they secrete a lot of virus particles. Recovered animals can carry the FMD virus for a long time; usually months, but cases of more than a year have been reported. Carrier animals can continue shedding the virus and thus create reoccurrences of FMD.

The distance that FMD virus can spread via winds varies from strain to strain. SAT strains do not spread particularly far on winds and thus, if separation of pigs from other cloven-hooved animals is practiced, the risk of pigs becoming infected with SAT strains is mitigated. Secretions from infected animals carried into a piggery on boots, clothing, or equipment will transmit FMD into the unit. Free-roaming pigs are at a heightened risk as they could commingle with infected animals.

It is also important to note that, similarly to African swine fever (ASF), the FMD virus can be found in uncooked, unprocessed, and frozen meat products; therefore, no meat scraps (swill) from infected animals should be fed to pigs.

In summary, practicing good biosecurity 24/7/365 should make the risk of getting FMD into a piggery negligible.

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